author & children's advocate

Articles




Community, Nature, and Wonder as a Balm in Troubling Times

April 2021

I hope the story draws folks together whenever it’s read. I hope it draws you, dear reader, a little closer to wonder, a little closer to nature, a little closer to what truly matters. I hope it helps you remember the balm, perhaps even the cure, that we’re all searching for in these times: community, nature, the simple things in all their undeniable power.




Caribbean Immigrants Tell Their Story: 17 Own Voices Picture Books

February 2020

Although the stories that make the news about Caribbean immigrant communities highlight their vulnerability and disenfranchisement, there is a much wider, more positive narrative to be found in the adventures and achievements of creative, thriving, resilient Caribbean people living in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, as well as North America and Europe. It is crucial that many types of narratives about Caribbean immigrant experiences are published and lauded, and not just tragic stories of suffering and identity conflict.




Anansesem's Caribbean Children's/YA Online Bookstore Launched

August 2019

In building the new-and-improved Anansesem Online Bookstore, I sought to give own voices Caribbean CYA books the exclusive virtual shelf space they deserve. My hope is that these virtual bookshelves will be a stepping stone for individuals and organizations looking to create vibrant, exclusive physical spaces for housing, displaying and selling Caribbean CYA books in the real world.




On the Imperialist ‘Charity’ of Rebuilding Caribbean Children’s Libraries with Eurocentric Books

July 2018

Now that hurricanes Irma and Maria have meted out their violence in the Caribbean, the library and publishing communities in more powerful nations have begun to mobilize to help rebuild the islands’ damaged libraries. The American Library Association has started a Disaster Relief Fund for this purpose, and similar efforts by library supporters in other nations are materializing and expected to continue.




Beyond the “Four Fs”: Caribbean Own Voices

November 2017

In 2013 Deborah Ahenkorah, cofounder and executive director of Golden Baobab (a social enterprise aimed at promoting African children’s literature), wrote an article in The Huffington Post titled “Where Are the Stories for African Children?” In it she decried the relative absence of books in which African children could see their physical likenesses, beliefs, and immediate everyday experiences reflected. I remember reading the article and thinking that someone should write one titled “Where Are the Stories for Caribbean Children?”




Challenging the Hidden Curriculum: A Middle School Teacher’s Use of Multicultural Literature in the Classroom

November 2016

Debbie Repak is the seventh and eighth grade Reading and Writing Teacher at FACTS. As a student teacher, I worked in her classroom and became interested in her use of multicultural literature with students. Previously, Debbie worked as a Humanities teacher at Welch Elementary School in the Council Rock School District. As a white, middle class teacher, she has worked hard to build bridges with Asian-American, African-American and Latino students from low-income, working class and immigrant families.




Cultural Authenticity in the Emerging Caribbean Picturebook Aesthetic

August 2013

Authenticity in the emerging Caribbean picturebook aesthetic must be examined in light of issues of authorship and publication. The “insider versus outsider” debate is relevant, given that many Caribbean picturebooks are written and illustrated by cultural outsiders and are produced by foreign publishing houses.7 Indeed, the Caribbean picturebook aesthetic has developed to a large degree outside of the Caribbean.



The Nature of Belonging: Making a Home for Children’s Literature in the Caribbean’s Literary Landscape and  Letter to a Child Leaving Trinidad

April 2020

Children's books that socialize children toward an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the place of humans within it, and that reflect and reference Caribbean children's own physical likenessnes, beliefs, cultures, and immediate everyday experiences, offer a querencia of words, images and imaginaries within which both children and adults can learn to master the art of nostos—a Greek word denoting the idea of returning home from a long journey—of coming back home to ourselves, our communities, and our natural, cultural and inner ways of knowing.




9 Picture Book Biographies About Caribbean Women

March 2020

March is Women's History Month in honor of the countless women whose extraordinary lives, accomplishments, and talents have made the world a better, more interesting place. These inspiring nonfiction books for primary readers foreground the contributions of Caribbean women who have blazed trails in the professions, the arts, sports, and social justice.




7 “Own Voices” Caribbean Picture Books Depicting Empowered Girlhood

November 2018

As a little girl growing up in Trinidad, I and children of my generation were fortunate to read the legendary Ladybird Sunstart and Boyo and Carla basal readers throughout our primary school years. In these books, independent, intelligent, intrepid and well-loved Caribbean girls who looked and lived like me went on adventures, solved mysteries, played sports, learned valuable lessons, and were accepted and supported by their loved ones or community. Partly because of those stories, I grew up taking for granted that it was perfectly normal for a girl to be clever, confident, strong willed, and also kind and generous.




The Importance of Caribbean Children’s Literature

June 2018

The recent scandal around people from the Windrush generation who came to settle in the UK after the Second World War has put Caribbean culture in the news. Among this group you’ll find children’s and YA authors like Grace Nichols, Valerie Bloom, Trish Cooke, Alex Pascall, the late James Berry, Faustin Charles, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard and Malorie Blackman, who was Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015. Anansesem has published work and interviews with some of these authors, and we’re proud to have helped them build an audience in the UK.




The Effects of Negative News on Young People: Harnessing Literacy for Healing

September 2017

As xenophobic, sexist, racist, and homophobic rhetoric becomes increasingly commonplace, young readers need empowering, accessible books that celebrate diversity, tolerance, and social justice. The right books and stories can open doors for meaningful conversations and propel young people toward civic engagement.




Children's Literature as a Vehicle for Peace

September 2016

I belong to the community of educators and people working in children’s publishing. Ours is a community powerfully positioned to create peace by shaping the minds and strengthening the resilience of the future generation. Children’s literature, far from being a frivolous societal diversion, can be a cornerstone for creating a peaceful world, but only if we can manage to succeed in re-envisioning the children’s publishing industry to harness this great potential.